IBS study: Helping patients find food triggers faster

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Avoiding trigger foods and finding relief can be difficult and cumbersome for those with irritable bowel syndrome. But a new test can simplify the entire process.

Prepping dinner for Natalie Vasher means chopping peppers, marinating chicken, and serving it all with a side of relief. Vasher was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. It started in 2016.

“I felt gas and bloating and just not feeling like myself no matter what I ate,” said Vasher.

She did what many in her situation do -- an elimination low FODMAP diet. FODMAP is an acronym for a class of carbohydrates that are hard for some people to digest. The process of elimination can take up to four months. But a new blood test, called inFoods, can cut that time down to two to four weeks.

“The blood sample is tested for various antibodies to common food triggers in patients with IBS, based upon results, an elimination diet is fashioned,” explained Dr. William Chey, a professor of gastroenterology at Michigan Medicine.

It looks at patient reactions to 18 foods that can commonly activate an elevated immune response through the production of IgG antibodies. The results show if a food should be green-lighted or red-lighted.

“Eliminating those foods, in our study, was associated with an improvement in overall IBS symptoms,” Chey said.

Natalie’s red lights are onions, stone fruit, apples, and high-fat dairy. She makes adjustments to her diet that keep her symptoms under control.

The Biomerica inFoods IBS blood test needs a doctor’s prescription. It will be offered at gastro-health locations around the country and will be offered at other medical networks soon. The study took place at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, the Mayo Clinic, and Texas Medical Center.